Wild Mercury Sound

Karen Dalton, Mike Wexler and the return of David Yow

John Mulvey

A bit of a round-up today, since I've spent the past week or so reporting on gigs and messing about with the minutiae of putting a mag out. There is, amazingly, a new Karen Dalton album I'm very excited about, though I've only heard two tracks as yet.

The love for those two Dalton albums must have sent tapehounds scurrying to find anything else she recorded in her lifetime. "Cotton Eyed Joe (The Loop Tapes) - Live In Boulder 1962" does not look immediately that promising, being a live set recorded some seven years before her debut album.

I can't speak for the quality of the rest of this 2CD set (the cynic in me is a bit suspicious that the record label are only sending out two-track samplers). But these are fantastic: even so young, Dalton's voice is beautifully dilapidated on Ray Charles' "It's Alright" and Fred Neil's "Red Are The Flowers". It's an important document, I think, because it proves that when Dalton turned up in Greenwich Village, she must have been one of the innovators rather than the camp followers. When I hear the whole thing, I'll write more.

Second up is a record by a New Yorker called Mike Wexler that I think I've alluded to once or twice in the past few months. "Sun Wheel" is a lovely and elaborate chamber psych-folk thing, that occasionally spirals off into trips reminiscent of the Canterbury psych scene, but which foregrounds Wexler's eerie, needly falsetto. If Devendra Banhart seems a bit too cutesy for you these days, the slightly damaged otherworldliness of Wexler is well worth checking out. I found his Myspace here. Let me know what you think.

Finally, a welcome return from the great David Yow, whose self-destructive Iggyisms and foul jokes made The Jesus Lizard one of my favourite live bands in the '90s. Yow now appears to have joined a band called Qui, lending his enduringly unpleasant voice to some workouts that occasionally resemble Van Halen if they'd signed to the Amphetamine Reptile label.

Again, the jury's out 'til I've heard more, though "Freeze" on Qui's Myspace sounds fairly promising. It's good to have him back, anyway.


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